coyotes toronto

Coyote spotted hanging out near Toronto's Union Station

For such a massive urban centre — the fourth-largest in North America, to be exact — Toronto is teeming with wildlife... and I'm not talking about pigeons or rats.

Over the past few years, Canada's most-populous city has experienced a marked uptick in sightings of majestic animals that used to be found almost exclusively in national parks, rural areas and zoos.

From red foxes at the CN Tower to deer chilling in grocery store parking lots, these unusual downtown wildlife encounters were initially credited to the quietness brought on by lockdown measures in 2020 and 2021.

And yet, four-legged beacons of Canadiana continue to pop up daily in truly surprising places around Toronto, which is now (for the most part) bumping with human activity once again.

The latest critter to confound commuters was a coyote, spotted on the train tracks adjacent to Union Station on Tuesday morning.

Twitter user @nbjaffer snapped a photo of the healthy-looking creature as it meandered through the railpath just after sunrise on Feb. 21, noting that it might actually be a coyote-wolf hybrid (or coywolf) based on its impressive size.

It is undoubtedly unusual for a commuter to spot a coyote — hybridized or otherwise — in the heart of downtown Toronto. Experts have stated, however, that wildlife are fond of using rail corridors to travel between different locales (so many rats to eat!)

This particular canine did not appear to cause any trouble, which is consistent with normal wild coyote behaviour.

"Coyotes are normally afraid of people and try to avoid them — but in cramped city living quarters, we are bound to run into each other once in a while," notes the Toronto Wildlife Centre.

"It is unusual for these species to approach people, but when it occurs, it is usually seen in animals that have become habituated because people feed them."

More coyotes are thought to have been frequenting residential areas in and around Toronto over the past few years due to humans feeding them illegally, inadverdently putting small dogs at risk, and hurting the coyotes themselves.

The City of Toronto advises humans never to feed coyotes, either deliberately or inadvertently (read: secure your garbage,) noting that food and shelter are naturally plentiful in this region for the species.

"Coyotes generally do not pose a danger to people, but can pose a danger for pets," reads the city's website. "They are active during the day and at night, particularly dusk and dawn, and help to control rodent and rabbit populations... They do not hibernate and may be seen more often during winter months as they are not hidden by foliage."

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